Preakness 2022: Sizing up the candidates for Pimlico

Preakness 2022: Sizing up the candidates for Pimlico

It
could change. No. It will change. But for now the field for Preakness Stakes 2022 is overflowing with possibilities. Probabilities are another matter.

Here
are the candidates for the second jewel of the Triple Crown on May 21 at Pimlico
in Baltimore, subject to – well – change. They are listed in order of – well – intrigue.

Rich Strike

Status: Probable. Trainer:
Eric Reed. Jockey: Sonny León. Last race: Won the Kentucky
Derby. Style: Deep closer. The story: Winning the Derby at 80-1
odds ruined all his conditions. Now he cannot be entered in “a other than”
races. It has been 10 years since the Derby winner entered the Preakness as “a
other than” favorite. That was when I’ll Have Another upset Bodemeister. This
will feel even more like 2009, when Mine That Bird was the 50-1 Derby winner
and no better than the third choice at Pimlico before losing by a length to
Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra.

RELATED: Derby-winning trainer is in Triple Crown whirlwind.

Secret
Oath

Status: Possible. Trainer:
D. Wayne Lukas. Jockey: Luis Contreras. Last race: Won the
Kentucky Oaks. Style: Mid-pack. The story: She finished third
against males in the Arkansas Derby (G1), so why wouldn’t she try this for a
trainer who has been there and done that? Lukas sent Derby winner Winning
Colors against the boys in Baltimore in 1988. She finished third as the
Preakness favorite. If not here, Lukas said the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) on May 16
at Pimlico might be Secret Oath’s next stop.

Epicenter

Status: No decision. Trainer:
Steve Asmussen. Jockey: Joel Rosario. Last race: 2nd in the
Kentucky Derby. Style: Early speed or stalker. The story: He was
winning the Derby until the last 10 strides. If he goes, he is the likely
favorite in the Preakness. He will be back on the track for a gallop Wednesday at Churchill Downs. Asmussen and Winchell Thoroughbreds racing manager David Fiske said if Epicenter looks good, he may be sent to Baltimore.

Early
Voting

Status: Probable. Trainer:
Chad Brown. Jockey: José Ortiz. Last race: 2nd in the Wood
Memorial (G2). Style: Early speed. The story: Even though he
qualified for the Derby, Brown targeted the Preakness all along for this Gun Runner
colt who won the Withers (G3) in a hand ride and who was caught at the wire by
Mo Donegal in the Wood. Only that loss kept him from being undefeated in three
races.

Simplification

Status: Probable. Trainer:
Antonio Sano. Jockey: To be determined. Last race: 4th in the
Kentucky Derby. Style: Mid-pack. The story: With José Ortiz
riding him from near the back of the pack, Simplification avoided the suicidal early
pace in the Derby. Regardless of who rides him, he will not be 35-1 at Pimlico.

Smile
Happy

Status: Possible. Trainer:
Kenny McPeek. Jockey: Corey Lanerie. Last race: 8th in the
Kentucky Derby. Style: Mid-pack. The story: Before he faded in
the homestretch at Churchill Downs, he got caught in traffic and steadied on
the second turn. Yet he fought back before he ran out of gas. If he did not
have too much taken out of him in the Derby, maybe he will like the shorter
distance of the Preakness.

Zandon

Status: No decision. Trainer:
Chad Brown. Jockey: Flavien Prat. Last race: 3rd in the Kentucky
Derby. Style: Closer. The story: He would carry more intrigue if
it did not seem like Brown was leaning against going to Baltimore. As promised
before the Derby, Zandon stayed in mid-pack rather than far back, and he
pounced at just the right time. He simply lost to a better horse in his duel
with Epicenter. Oh, yeah. There was that rail horse, too.

Taiba

Status: Possible. Trainer:
Tim Yakteen. Jockey: Mike Smith. Last race: 12th in the
Kentucky Derby. Style: Stalker. The story: In only his third
race, he got a serious baptism and a face full of dirt. He did not change leads
in the stretch, so who knows how much better he might have done? Taking the
cynical view that this is still a Bob Baffert colt, then he could be the eighth
one to win the Preakness. Then again, six of those first seven were Derby
winners, and Taiba is not that.

Happy
Jack

Status: Probable. Trainer:
Doug O’Neill. Jockey: Rafael Bejarano. Last race: 14th in the
Kentucky Derby. Style: Deep closer. The story: He spent his
energy before the Derby getting his tail caught in the starting gate. Then he
was slow getting out of it. No wonder connections are eager to get back in the
fight.

Creative
Minister

Status: Possible. Trainer:
Kenny McPeek. Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr. Last race: Won a 1
1/16-mile allowance on the Derby undercard. Style: Mid-pack. The story:
If not for a neck loss in his debut, this Creative Causeway colt with an impressive
turn of foot would be 3-for-3. He will come off Lasix for the Preakness.

Skippylongstocking

Status: Probable. Trainer:
Saffie Joseph Jr. Jockey: Júnior Alvarado. Last race: 3rd in
the Wood Memorial (G2). Style: Stalker. The story: This Exaggerator
colt is a throwback to a time when racehorses raced. The Preakness will be his
10th start but only his second away from Gulfstream Park, where he got his two
wins in maiden and allowance company. Joseph won the winter-spring title at
Gulfstream. He continues to try to achieve the same sort of dominance north of
there.

Un Ojo

Status: Probable. Trainer: Ricky Courville. Jockey: Ramón Vázquez. Last race: 8th in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Style: Stalker. The story: A bruised foot diagnosed on entry day kept him out of the Kentucky Derby, where he would have been the longest shot on the board. He still dines out on his ground-saving, 75-1 breakthrough in winning the Rebel (G2).

Rattle N Roll

Status: Possible. Trainer: Kenny McPeek. Jockey: To be determined. Last race: 6th in the Blue Grass (G1). Style: Mid-pack. The story: If there had been just one more defection, he could have been in the Derby. His last win was last fall in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1). He has finished off the board in his three starts as a 3-year-old, all Derby preps. McPeek said if Smile Happy were to go to the Preakness, Rattle N Roll probably would not, since they both are owned by the Mackin family.

Ethereal
Road

Status: Possible. Trainer:
D. Wayne Lukas. Jockey: To be determined. Last race: 4th in
the Lexington (G3). Style: Closer. The story: When the colt “was flat”
Friday morning, Lukas scratched him from the Derby, saying “if I had run him
again, then I pretty much blew the summer.” Ethereal Road raced twice in eight
days last month at Keeneland, and his only win in seven starts was in a maiden
race at Oaklawn in January.

Shake
Em Loose

Status: Possible. Trainer:
Rodolpho Sánchez-Salomón. Jockey: To be determined. Last race: 3rd
in the Federico Tesio. Style: Closer. The story: After a troubled
trip last out April 16 in the traditional prep for the Preakness, owner-trainer
Sánchez-Salomón has been weighing the classic against the James W. Murphy turf
mile on the same card. The gelding, who has won two black-type stakes at Laurel
Park, was a $16,000 claim last fall.

#Preakness #Sizing #candidates #Pimlico

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